Click on this map to enlarge it and see the details.
In case you missed it, we wrote about DRHorton's retention of minerals for their properties last year. Click here to read about that.
In recent weeks, we have discovered that our Grand Prairie, TX Gas Drilling Ordinance doesn't address the issue of homes being built dangerously close to gas drilling sites AFTER a drilling site is already established.
Denton Drilling Blog has been writing about this somewhat confusing issue as well. (Denton, TX currently has a 1,200 Ft. protected use setback, by the way. Many residents had wanted it to be 1,500 Ft. with the latest revision to their Gas Drilling Ordinance in January 2013.) Read about that here.
Our current Grand Prairie, TX Gas Drilling Ordinance addresses protected use setbacks for already established protected uses...including homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, businesses, day care centers. That protected use setback is 700 Feet with a variance of 500 Feet in certain cases that must be approved by City Council. (Our group and city staff had advocated for a 1,000 Ft. setback back in 2011, but unfortunately our City Council decided upon the 700 Ft. setback.) A 1,000 Ft. setback for parks is the current rule (with stipulations).
Here's a Chart available to everyone on the Grand Prairie, TX Web Site and prepared by the Environmental Services Department. It shows the new provisions enacted when the Revised Gas Drilling Ordinance was voted in on January 18, 2011. We like the detail it shows for new permits vs. old permits.
The Dangerous Loophole
The Howell Pad Site is situated several miles north of our Westchester community on Great Southwest Parkway near Jefferson/Abram St. Surprisingly, the home builder, DRHorton, is not in violation of any current protected use setback requirements (as specified in our current Gas Drilling Ordinance) even though the new homes are dangerously close to the pad site (see the map above). (FYI: Just for the record, we have learned that the minerals for this particular new DRHorton development were retained by past land owners, not DRHorton. Mineral property is such a tricky business.)
According to our current city Gas Drilling Ordinance, it appears that DRHorton or any developer can build homes in Grand Prairie as close as they wish to drilling sites when the pad site already exists. Or maybe they are working off of the 200 Ft. State of Texas protective setback requirement for oil wells in densely populated areas ~ a statewide requirement established long before horizontal drilling? Not sure.
One would think "America's Builder" would have a stronger sense of ethics about it. We just don't understand why they don't. And why they didn't ask the city? But wait...this would have been a zoning issue to do with a new housing development, so it must have been presented to the Grand Prairie Planning and Zoning Commission. Surely P&Z would have seen the problem. Maybe Consent Agenda? We will check on that...
Important: If a drilling rig were up, then people might be more aware. But there has not been a rig up since 2011 according to the Grand Prairie Gas Drilling Status Report (Page 6).
But most people will have no idea what to expect with future drilling operations. This is an URGENT matter that must be addressed by our cities in North Texas.
What are we doing to our communities and to the families that only want to live the American dream of owning a home? We must address this Critical Issue. NOW.